The end of an era!
Microsoft ended mainline support for Windows 7 in January 2015. In January 2019, what they call Extended Support ends, and that is where it becomes untenable for further use. After 1/14/2020 Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for Windows 7; even if a security vulnerability is discovered; even if it's very serious. What happens in practice is that for months before the date (i.e., right now) hackers start storing up discovered vulnerabilities since right now Microsoft would fix them in Windows 7 if discovered. On 1/15/2020, that cache of exploits will be unleashed like a wave across the Windows 7 machines of the world, and they will be defenseless against them. Antivirus, firewall and other security mechanisms can't fully protect against an exploit targeting a vulnerability in the operating system itself.
So, the "hacker's playground" phrase that was coined when Windows XP went through this in April of 2014 will apply to Windows 7 in January, 2020.
Early indications of withdrawal of support from beyond Microsoft have already starting appearing, with application and service providers beginning to withdraw support for Windows 7. One example:
- Keep using it. For all the reason above, this is a very bad idea.
- Retire it, if it's no longer needed.
- Upgrade to Windows 10. Most machines that are still running Windows 7 are not worth the upgrade cost. Some are. We should discuss.
- Buy a new machine. We have considerable expertise and an established process to make sure computers we buy for our clients are the best possible value - the balance between capability and cost. We should discuss!
We have begun reaching out to clients who still have Windows 7 machines in place, and started the replacement process.